First Reading: From the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians 1:21-23
21 You were once estranged and of hostile intent through your evil behaviour;
22 now he has reconciled you, by his death and in that mortal body, to bring you before himself holy, faultless and irreproachable-
23 as long as you persevere and stand firm on the solid base of the faith, never letting yourselves drift away from the hopepromised by the gospel, which you have heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become the servant.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 54:3-4, 6, 8
3 Arrogant men are attacking me, bullies hounding me to death, no room in their thoughts for God.
4 But now God is coming to my help, the Lord, among those who sustain me.
6 How gladly will I offer you sacrifice, and praise your name, for it is good,
7 for it has rescued me from all my troubles, and my eye has feasted on my enemies.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of St. Luke 6:1-5
1 It happened that one Sabbath he was walking through the cornfields, and his disciples were picking ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them.
2 Some of the Pharisees said, ‘Why are you doing something that is forbidden on the Sabbath day?’
3 Jesus answered them, ‘So you have not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry-
4 how he went into the house of God and took the loaves of the offering and ate them and gave them to his followers, loaves which the priests alone are allowed to eat?’
5 And he said to them, ‘The Son of man is master of the Sabbath.’
Theme: The Son of man is lord of the Sabbath
What does the commandment “keep holy the Sabbath” require of us? Or better yet, what is the primary intention behind this command? The religious leaders confronted Jesus on this issue. The “Sabbath rest” was meant to be a time to remember and celebrate God’s goodness and the goodness of his work, both in creation and redemption. It was a day set apart for the praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on our behalf. It was intended to bring everyday work to a halt and to provide needed rest and refreshment.
The Lord of the Sabbath feeds and nourishes us
Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the Scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom. In their hunger, David and his men ate of the holy bread offered in the Temple (1 Samuel 21:2-7). On every Sabbath morning twelves loaves were laid before God on a golden table in the Holy Place. Each loaf represented one of the twelve tribes of Israel. No one was allowed to eat this bread except the priests because it represented the very presence of God. David understood that human need took precedence over rules and ritual regulations.
Seek the Lord’s rest and refreshment
Why didn’t the Pharisees recognize the claims of mercy over rules and regulations? Their zeal for ritual observance blinded them from the demands of charity. Jesus’ reference to the bread of the Presence alludes to the true bread from heaven which he offers to all who believe in him. Jesus, the Son of David, and the Son of Man, a title for the Messiah, declares that he is “Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus healed on the Sabbath and he showed mercy to those in need. All who are burdened can find true rest and refreshment in him. Do you seek rest and refreshment in the Lord and in the celebration of the Lord’s Day?
“Lord Jesus, you refresh us with your presence and you sustain us with your life-giving word. Show me how to lift the burden of others, especially those who lack the basic necessities of life, and to refresh them with humble care and service.”